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Chessey Thomas Wins Women’s Amateur Championship; Shelly Stouffer Victorious at Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship

Victoria, B.C. (July 20, 2012) – In 1899, Mrs. Melbourne Bailey’s name was etched on a trophy as the first-ever Pacific Northwest Women’s Amateur champion. Today, Mrs. Bailey was joined by a new champion as Chessey Thomas of Spokane, Wash. completed an impressive run with a gutsy 4&3 victory in the championship match over Amanda Baker of Nanaimo, B.C. to capture the 111th Pacific Northwest Women’s Amateur Championship, held at Bear Mountain Golf Resort in Victoria, B.C.

In a grueling 36-hole championship battle, the No. 3 seed Thomas blinked first, falling 1-down when Baker, the No. 8 seed, birdied the par-4 fourth hole. But Thomas responded with back-to-back birdies on holes five and six to take a 1-up lead. Over the next five holes, Thomas built a 4-up lead, only to see Baker recover and return the match to all square at the conclusion of the first 18 holes. “I hit a few errant tee shots and she kept it in play. I really tried not to get frustrated,” Thomas said about being all square after 18 holes. “We were pretty evenly matched so it was not a shock. It was what I expected.”

On the 20th hole, a par-3, Thomas made birdie to take the lead again and seemed to grab the momentum. “Once that putt rolled in, I felt it shift a little bit and for me, mentally, I was going to ride that out as far as I could.” Thomas took advantage of the momentum, as she pulled out to a 4-up lead through 25 holes. Baker would make one last valiant effort with a birdie on the 27th hole but it was not enough to overcome Thomas’ steady game down the stretch. Five straight closing pars sealed the 4&3 victory and a place among some of the greatest Pacific Northwest women’s amateur champions, a list that includes 1978 champion and namesake of the medalist trophy, Liz Culver. “It means a lot,” Thomas said about the victory. “I took a lot of time off after Nationals, so to come back and win my first event in two years feels really good. I can look back at this and be pretty proud of myself.” Thomas is a member of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols golf team.

En route to the championship, Thomas played over 130 holes in one week. “I didn’t know if I was ready for this but I made it,” she said with a sigh of relief. “I’m very tired but it felt good to finish strong. Amanda (Baker) finished strong so I feel pretty blessed to be standing here.” (Watch Thomas’ interview here.)

In the Women’s Mid-Amateur championship match, Shelly Stouffer of Nanoose Bay, B.C. finished off a remarkable week with a decisive 5&4 victory over Leslie Folsom of Seattle, Wash. to win the 11th Pacific Northwest Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship. The victory caps off a successful stretch of tournaments for Stouffer, who recently won the British Columbia Master-40 Championship and placed 3rd in the British Columbia Mid-Amateur.

Stouffer got out of the gate quickly with a birdie on the par-5 first hole and built a 3-up lead through five holes. Folsom won the sixth hole to move the match to 2-up, but that is as close as the match would get. Stouffer went 3-under-par over the next eight holes, including three of her six birdies on the day, to finish off Folsom, 5&4. The putter remained Stouffer’s strength in the championship match, much as it had been the rest of the week. “I love my belly putter,” she said. “It worked well this week. After the first round (of stroke play qualifying) when I shot a big number, it’s been awesome.” Stouffer kept the pressure on Folsom the entire round and never let up. “I kept hitting it close and she could not make any headway.” (Watch Stouffer’s interview here.)

Bear Mountain Golf Resort boasts two championship courses, Mountain and Valley, the only 36 holes of Nicklaus Design on Vancouver Island. The recently-added Valley Course rolls through the forested terrain of Vancouver Island at elevations of between 300 and 500 feet above sea level. The par-71 layout measures 6,807 yards from the Golden Bear tees and offers picturesque views of the surrounding landscape. Known for its fast, undulating greens and rolling fairways, the Valley Course posed a formidable test for this year’s field.

The PNGA championship trailer will now hit the road for Port Ludlow, Wash. and the Pacific Northwest Junior Boys’ Amateur Championship, to be held at Port Ludlow Golf Club from August 6-10.

Women’s Amateur    Women’s Mid-Amateur